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PostThe Tell-Tale "Tell," Explained (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 03/18/20 12:46 pm)
Gary Moore writes:
Since Marga Jann and Edward Jajko (March 7 and 8) have explored so informatively the word "tell" as a noun--in archaeology and Middle East geography--and since on March 8 I then reminded, cryptically, that the word "tell" can also form another kind of noun, our bemused moderator cried time out, and asked me to explain what the heck I was talking about.
As it turns out, my March 8 exposition of "that other tell" was undone by too much drollery. One doesn't want to boringly telegraph the punchline of a joke like this by spelling out every little detail--but going too far in the opposite direction, into arch insinuation as a substitute for explanation, can collapse the whole message into gibberish.
What stumped JE on March 8 was that, as introduction of that other kind of "tell," I offered a fantasy headline: "Vegas Hotel Room Blunder Leaves Winner Gloating: 'Unconscious Coronavirus Face-Touching Was The Fatal Tell.'"
As I formulated this mouthful I had to decide whether to include one more word. But I said to myself, "Nah, that would make it too obvious." And obviously, I thus stepped over the too-cryptic threshold, squeezing the economy of phrase into unintelligibility.
The additional word is "poker."
JE comments: My apologies to Gary Moore for the delay in posting his "tell"-all treatise. Gary sent this response ten days ago--that is, in an earlier historical epoch. But we need a break from the coronacrisis, and it's a pleasant distraction to muse about language and puns.
A poker "tell" is the opposite of a poker "face": you know, the sweaty excitement you give off when you draw to an inside straight. But Gary, now that all poker games are on-line, has the "tell" gone the way of the face-to-face conference?